So I’m getting around that promise by doing another blog.
First, I wanted to mention the people that I saw that I didn’t mention earlier.
My first AWP blog made it sound like I was pretty lonely there (and I was), but that probably had as much to do with my own general gloominess as it did the conference. Beside all the people I did mention in the previous blog, I saw two others I wanted to get in.
I ran into David Radavich, one of my EIU friends, about five times at the AWP Bookfair. He was usually going one way and I was going another. We nodded and shook hands and said this and that, but I guess I was too discombobulated to say to David, “I’m lost, let’s have coffee.”
I also ran into Thad Rutkowski who I recently read with in DC. We did have coffee (Starbucks) and talked about how confusing the conference was. He gave me a copy of his book Tetched: A Novel in Fractals.
(If you are reading this and saw me or talked to me at AWP, please drop me a line at jzguzlowski [at] gmail.com, and I will be sure to post your name in my next AWP update.)
Then there are all the friends who I didn’t see but who I found out later were there: Jean Braithwaite, Irene Willis, Sheryl St. Germain, and Jeff Vasseur.
I ran into Jeff at La Guardia Airport when I was heading back to Valdosta. I said, “I didn’t know you were at the AWP,” and he said, “I didn’t know you were at the AWP.” We grinned and shrugged, and talked about the general confusion at the conference; and then he said something that really stuck with me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Being at the AWP is like being on Mars.”
I’ve thought about that a lot and figure that that gets to the heart of it as well as anything. It’s like we’re astronauts in separate little personal rockets aimed at Mars, and NASA hurls our souls – as Bruce Springsteen would sing it – into that “great void” beyond, and some how most of us make it, and then we start wandering around Mars looking for other little personal rockets with poets and writers inside.
We find some of those other astronauts but others we don’t. It’s a big dusty planet, and we have other things on our mind.
And of course some of us don’t make it to Mars.